Herbstferien Adventures: Part 2

So my last blog post ended with my return to Hannover last week after an epic Herbstferien adventure with Phoebe. But, despite the fact I remained in my region of Niedersachsen for the rest of the holidays, I’d still describe it as epic, but in a more calm sense. Here’s my Herbstferien Adventures: Part 2:

It was really freaky how it emerged from very dirty water.

Tuesday saw my fourth trip to the Zoo here in Hannover. Yes, fourth. Though it is slowly becoming a little more boring every time I go, it still is good fun, and I always seem to discover something new every time I do go (this time new things including finding out that there’s mega cheap Currywurst in my favourite area of the Zoo which you get loads of, and the fact that the hippopotamuses do actually sometimes go in the little viewing area and don’t always hang out where you can only see them from above).

This trip to the Zoo means my next trip will make my year ticket pay itself off. So if anyone fancies a trip to Hannover, and to the Zoo, just sag mir Bescheid, and I will be there. I’ve also heard that in Winter, the Zoo becomes a Winter Zoo (cleverly thought out name, I know) where the petting zoo becomes an ice skating rink which does sound very exciting indeed, though I’m unsure what happens to the nice, little goats and the tall, evil llamas in the meantime. The image of them skating around on their hooves was admittedly the first image I had in my head when I first considered what would happen to them when the petting zoo is no longer there… (And now you have that image – it’s pretty funny in a weird way, right?)

On Tuesday evening, after having both our bank cards eaten by two totally different machines (don’t worry it’s all sorted now) we met with another language assistant who’s in Hannover and from Switzerland, and we went to the cinema to see Taken 2. In German. I’d never seen the first one, but I must admit Taken 2 was a bit of a let down. It was a pretty short film, but at least I could understand the majority which I don’t think I would have been able to do before I started living here 3 months ago.

The initial plan for Wednesday was to head to Lüneburg where I did my exchange about 3 years ago, but unfortunately I had to pick my key up for Menschingstraße, my 5th temporary home here in Germany – this time for November – which I guess isn’t such a bad thing seen as it meant I could move in when I was ready. So instead of exploring more of the wonderful region that is Lower Saxony, we went around Hannover, where Phoebe also took advantage of being somewhere which actually had shops. Picking up my key for Menschingstraße resulted in a long 50-minute wait, as well as three games of table football (two of which I owned), and before we knew it we were heading to the main train station to pick up Shane who was staying the weekend in Hannover due to us planning to visit Braunschweig and Wolfsburg.

We went for a cheeky Jim Block (where else?) and got back to mine (which was then my mentor’s home and mentor and her family were on holiday) and we had planned to watch Up, or should I say ‘Oben’, which I’d bought on DVD in German. Depressingly, it turned out the DVD was blu-ray (it wasn’t stated clearly) meaning it wouldn’t work on my mentor’s DVD player, nor my laptop, so I’ll have to wait until I get home to watch it. I know it will be worth the wait.

On Thursday, Phoebe headed back to Herzlake, whilst me and Shane got all excited about Starbucks having red cups (well, I got excited anyway). After mooching around town for a little while, it was time for my first class which I’d signed up for a few weeks ago. I was quite looking forward to it, and then I turned up to the class. There were a few lovely people there, including one girl who offered me sweets, but all in all I really didn’t enjoy it. It wasn’t that I felt better than the rest, but I did feel the level of German being taught was too low for me (which pretty much means I felt better than the rest, yes, but not in a big-headed way). An example of one of the many tedious things the teacher said was (in German): “Where does the verb go when we use ‘weil’?” German students will realise how tedious that is. I know where the verb goes when we use ‘weil’, thanks. Not only that, I somehow signed myself up for a presentation on a guy I know nothing about in December a week after my birthday which isn’t ideal. And it made things worse when I heard the other students speaking in German, I was slowly cringing (and so was the teacher slightly) at the mistakes being made. As I say, I’m not being big-headed here. But I’m just going to quickly un-signup from that class…

On Thursday evening, Shane and I (i.e. mainly Shane) cooked Cottage Pie for my mentor as a thanks for having me for the past two weeks. I’d wanted to do something nice for her and her family, and after hearing Phoebe’s cooking Cottage Pie for her family she lives with, I thought that would be perfect – albeit the fact I can’t cook Cottage Pie. And it just so turned out Shane knew how to cook Cottage Pie. And you can see how the story goes on from there… (I did peel a few potatoes and also mash the potatoes and crush up the Oxo Cube which we bought from the Britannia shop onto the mince).

Weird looking, but weirdly tasty Bubble Tea.

Friday was moving day. I moved into Menschingstraße which is another student accommodation here in Hannover, but luckily a lot nicer than Dorotheenstraße where I lived for the Summer Academy back in August. I’ve spoken to a few people so far down my corridor, most of whom are German, and they seem lovely, despite the fact that salami was stolen from my drawer which wasn’t lockable due to half an iceberg at the back of the fridge (but don’t worry that’s all been sorted now and I wrote a nasty note before smashing the ice to bits like the massive manly man I am). On Friday evening, Shane and I met with a few other assistants, and we went to a Bavarian restaurant which Millie discovered during the autumn holidays – it’s basically smack bang in the middle of Hannover, and we just seemed to have never seen it before. I had a giant Schnitzel (and when I say giant, I mean giant) which was a little expensive but definitely worth it. We also tried Bubble Tea later on in a a Bubble Tea café which is interesting – it’s basically a milky drink, you choose the flavour, with flavoured bubbles at the bottom, you also pick the flavour, which pop in your mouth. I had peach milk with passion fruit bubbles, and it was weirdly rather tasty.

Epic exploring began again on Saturday as we hit both Braunschweig and Wolfsburg on the same day, both of which are luckily in Niedersachsen, meaning free travel to and from and within for me and Millie (and at least just a Niedersachsen Ticket for Shane).

Braunschweig (or ‘Brunswick’ in English), in short, was a very lovely city, and it’s known as the Löwenstadt (the ‘lion city’). We managed to come across a festival (a pretty common occurrence here in Germany), and this one was to celebrate ‘Mumme’. Basically, you eat/drink Mumme, yet we weren’t too sure what it was as you put it in certain things, from beer to potato to sausage. Here’s a link to the wikipedia page if you’re interested (I do like the fact the English translation is ‘Mum’): Brunswick Mumme.

Wolfsburg, in short, was different. I’d actually heard a few bad things about it, in that it was purely concrete and not very pretty, but I knew I wanted to go regardless due to my dad once having a friend who worked in the big Volkswagen factory there. And I must say I was extremely impressed. Yes, it was pretty much all concrete, but it looked really cool and modern. We only had about 4 hours in Wolfsburg, and spent about 2 and a half in an absolutely fantastic museum we came across right near the train station called ‘phæno‘. It was basically like Magna back in England, and was fantastic, from a tilted room which felt like it was constantly tilting further and further, to a hovering carpet, to a shadow-copying machine which made cool patterns with lots of shadows (which was extremely addictive and a video of our masterpiece can be seen on my Facebook here).

Afterwards, we headed into the Autostadt (‘car city’) due to it being free entry after 6pm. We were all pretty impressed, it must be said. For example, look at the below photo of two tall towers and take a guess what they actually are:

What are they…?

You may already know what they are, but for those of you who don’t – they are vending machines. With cars in them. How awesome is that?!

Basically, as far as I understand, you order the cars beforehand, and then when you come and collect them, the car comes down the centre of the tower, just like in a vending machine. I think there’s more to it than that, but that itself is quite impressive. The whole place was generally awesome, and it’s a shame we didn’t have too long to fully explore. But thankfully, I only live an hour away, and can get there for free, so I will no doubt be returning again to visit the city I always heard about when I was younger.

Saturday evening saw Millie’s first night out in Germany, and Shane’s first night out in Hannover. I won’t go into too much detail, but drinking Amaretto whilst playing Ring Of Fire with three people (in which at one point we weren’t allowed to look into Shane’s, I mean, Richard’s eyes, and if ever anyone answered one of my questions they had to drink, and I kept getting Millie, I mean, Jones, sometimes by accident, whilst swiftly remembering I was her mate so had to drink whenever she did). Phew. It was an extremely fun night though, and in true German style we left to go to the club, Dax, at around 12:30am, and we got back around 4am, and resulted in getting out of bed at around 3pm on Sunday. Lie in well needed I reckon.

My wonderful wall full of cards from my favourite 4th class.

And, finally, on Monday (which was Bonfire Night which the Germans sadly don’t celebrate), I headed to my school, despite having Mondays and Tuesdays off, to quickly see Ilka to discuss some work, where I discovered my favourite 4th class in which I helped out before the Herbstferien had wrote lots of cards and put them in my pigeon hole, along with a chocolate ladybird. They are now stuck proudly on my wall here in Menschingstraße!

And that, dear readers, was my second part to my Herbstferien adventure. So all in all, I visited tons of new cities, both in the boiling sunshine and in the freezing snow, and I had my 5th move since August. 2 weeks well spent I reckon!